2014 NAB: What to Watch For
With the NAB Show right around
the corner, we decided to canvas
our writers and columnists and
get their thoughts about what to expect and not expect at the industry’s largest annual
Here’s what they had to say…
■ Gary Arlen
NCTA’s Cable Show starts just three weeks
after the NAB Show. It will be fascinating
to see how topics of mutual concern—
spectrum, Aereo, retransmission consent,
second-screen diversion, audience fragmentation—
will be addressed from totally
different perspectives at the shows.
Aereo’s day in (Supreme) Court on April
22, in between the two conventions, will
escalate the rhetoric.
The NAB Show again has a very strong
roster of “new media” sessions and exhibits.
Evolving multiplatform delivery and simulviewing
options on display in Las Vegas will
be an urgent reminder to broadcasters that
the new competitive landscape is here.
Mobile TV is a big factor in this new
landscape, so let’s see what Dyle and the
other broadcast-based systems promise
now. With the advent of 5G service (Qualcomm
announced new chips in February),
the prospect of video on handheld devices
becomes stronger. Viewers seem to like
Web-delivered video-on-demand. Other
over-the-top technologies are generating
new business models, also with an impact
on broadcast operations.
For the policymakers, vendors who sell
to broadcast, cable and increasingly ’netdelivery
platforms and also for the press
corps who cover media, April can be a cruel,
exhausting month. And also highly exciting,
confusing and contradictory.
■ Craig Johnston
Stations shopping for cellular-based liveshot
gear at NAB will find the solutions to
this equipment technology fragmenting.
Customers will be evaluating whether to
buy bonded cellular (multiple modem)
and/or single modem systems, off-the-shelf
or commercial grade modems, remote antenna
units, cameras sporting built-in modems,
or hybrid equipment combining all
or some elements of cellular, Wi-Fi, microwave
and satellite methods of getting the
news from the field to the studio.
Navigating the puzzle of this must-have
equipment requires making a bet on whose
solution correctly matches the cellular environment
of a particular television market,
whether 4G connectivity is up and running
or soon to arrive, and what new gear interfaces
with a station’s existing cellular toolkit.
Station groups may find themselves shuffling
hand-me-downs from their larger markets to
the smaller ones, likely a win-win for both.
■ Al Kovalick
One of the biggest changes in media facility
infrastructure is the move to all things
IT and cloud. If this is important to you, focus
on products and vendors that are leading
the charge in this area. I will be looking
for Apps-as-a-Service, lossless AV transport
over Ethernet with bridges to legacy SDI,
virtualized storage, cloud services and reliable
connectivity. I will ask vendors about
their views regarding IT/cloud and their
support for standards. Vendors that “get it”
will have a strong roadmap that leverages
IT/cloud. This NAB Show will be a turning
point in the migration.
■ Mario Orazio
Seems like only last week I was doin’ my
post-NAB laundry… and here it is, time to
pack my valise again. Sheesh. And what’s
changed in a year? I can tell you one thing
that didn’t go away… and that’s 4K. I’ve
got high-resolution doubts about them
folks sellin’ millions of 4K screens to the
great unwashed (that would be my family);
but I know there’s a boatload o’ production
types queuing up for 4K gear, because
it makes life sweet in the suite. Got my
eye on that.
And I’m lookin’ forward to not seein’ a
ton of new gear, but instead, watchin’ big
new features blossom for last year’s models,
courtesy of radical, field-installed firmware
upgrades. Cameras, recorders, switchers,
whatever… I’m sick of watching my
new toys turn into worthless has-beens in
a flash; so instead, let’s flash them PROM’s
with some firmware magic, and give my
current gear new life—and value!
■ Karl Paulsen
Media Server Technology
We are all looking forward to the new
Grass Valley/Miranda combination, eager
to understand how complimentary their
respective technologies will be to each
other and how they plan to support the
industry going forward.
Obvious changes this year will be for
new formats such as 4K, UHDTV and even
8K. With the CES emphasis on UHD consumer
set availability, it will be interesting
to see where the manufacturers put their
emphasis. Will we now make the switch to
IP (packetized) routing of video or will we
continue to emphasize the SDI world, perhaps
carried as IP on Ethernet; or will there
be another means to carrying greater than
Software defined systems—those that
now include storage, networking
and envelope the
cloud—are surely expected
to make a more dramatic
entrance or reappearance.
Expect to see software
based video encoding more
in our future; and storage
becoming integrated with
transport, distribution, filebased
workflows and transformation
Asset management and workflow process
managers are becoming prevalent.
We see products that will manage storage,
transcoding and other workflows across
many vendors; allowing load balancing and
workflow managers that encompass multiple
groups of products, both similar and
dissimilar in function.
■ Jay Yeary
At this year’s NAB Show I expect to see
more activity among audio-over-IP manufacturers,
especially after Audinate’s announcement
that Dante will support
AES67 and with AVB’s current stagnation.
More manufacturer support for AES67
means wider interoperability among product
lines and minimizes broadcasters’ concern
over investing in the technology.
I will also be taking a close look at intercom
and communication products to
see the direction this part of the industry is
heading. Upcoming intercom products need
to support not only audio-over-IP protocols,
but also voice-over-IP, have easy integration
to consumer technologies like Skype and
Facetime, and must have non-proprietary
connectivity to other vendors.